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G. D. Busby "Cornish Graham" (Cornwall)
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Patrick Leigh Fermor: An Adventure
Patrick Leigh Fermor: An Adventure
by Artemis Cooper
Edition: Hardcover

16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cracking read, 30 Oct. 2012
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Not exactly a critic's title and, yet, this biography really is such a good read. Artemis Cooper's style is as good as her husband's; I really cannot fault it. What did seem somewhat odd is that Leigh Fermor's latter years really were compressed into a few pages; was this necessary? So many possible 'takes' on this biography; for example, what a superb way to add to the enjoyment of reading 'In Tearing Haste'. Alternatively, how can so many mutual friends of James Lees-Milne be mentioned with no joint encounter? In the end, I did just wonder if some 'gems' had been left out - because of individuals still living or some other reason.

Amazingly, or possibly not as this is the Rolls-Royce of publishers (Lees-Milne attribution), I could find only one typo in the entire volume. Dorrien-Smith or Smith-Dorrien? It only appears once in the former style and I just wondered because the Tresco lessee is the former version which makes me wonder which is the correct style.

Several other books were put aside to read this over several nights and it's hard to believe others will not end up doing the same.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 7, 2014 10:22 PM GMT


Headhunters
Headhunters
by Jo Nesbo
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

4.0 out of 5 stars It was some time..., 26 Sept. 2012
This review is from: Headhunters (Paperback)
...before I realised that this should actually be classified in the genre of black comedy as much as thriller. To state more would be to give too much away. It is certainly unlike the Harry Hole-based novel I read by Jo Nesbo although it draws on Oslo and environs in the same way.


The Fourth Man
The Fourth Man
by K. O. Dahl
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Norwegian crime fiction..., 17 Sept. 2012
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This review is from: The Fourth Man (Paperback)
It's a while since the initial pages of a novel held my attention quite so much; indeed, right up to page 27. Great. I couldn't avoid a comparison: Jo Nesbo's book The Redeemer is set, principally, in Oslo, like The Fourth Man; it's faster-paced and, yet, does not read like quite the same quality. Why? I do not know although it's interesting that Faber & Faber publish The Fourth Man and, like many must do, associate them with 'literary' fiction.

Chapter 25 (pp 197-198, yes, a two page chapter) is inspired. It concerns a goldfish... Trying to avoid reading other reviews before writing this, I could not help notice somebody else has suggested this novel 'tails off'. Yes, but it does not do so dramatically. This is Dahl's first publication in English and the translation is by Don Bartlett who I think has done a sterling job.


Archipelago [DVD]
Archipelago [DVD]
Dvd ~ Tom Hiddleston
Price: £7.69

0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not a lot happens..., 15 Sept. 2012
This review is from: Archipelago [DVD] (DVD)
...but that is not the point. Excellent study of family relationships...although we never see the father. All filmed, unless I am mistaken, on the island of Tresco - so worth visiting. The Scillies are still unknown to many, thankfully, and closure of the helicopter service might make it an even more exclusive destination...


The Man Who Went Into the West: The Life of R.S.Thomas
The Man Who Went Into the West: The Life of R.S.Thomas
by Byron Rogers
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.68

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Can selfishness be excused in parents?, 7 Sept. 2012
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There's no correct answer, of course. In this riveting (valid superlative) biography of Welsh poet R.S. Thomas, it becomes clear that the only offspring - Gwydion Thomas - lost out, particularly after being packed off to boarding school. This event meant that his father - and artist mother - had time to devote to their personal interests. Nonetheless, would a childhood based at home have really stilted Thomas' output? I don't have the faculty to judge. Biographer Byron Rogers makes an interesting comparison with Philip Ziegler when he was writing Mountbatten's biography; Ziegler "revealed that from time to time he had to stop simply to remind himself that this was a great man" (p.79): clearly, there are degrees of `great-ness'. In Thomas' case, can `great-ness' excuse the actions?
Although I had heard of R.S. Thomas, luckily, I have never read any of the poetry. Luckily, because preconceptions must result with prior reading and the biography was, therefore, read in a different way, I am sure. Rogers is good with regard to emphasising sources. The detail can at times be prosaic, e.g. "I had rung Gwydion Thomas. He it turned out, was in Waitrose, arguing with his small daughter about how many croissants they should buy..." (p.79).
Twelve years after R.S. Thomas' death, does he appear as `great'? Yes, I think he does and it's interesting what is available on You Tube. The Griff Rhys Jones five minute video was made after Thomas had been nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature and adds to the biography.


The Woman from Bratislava (Eurocrime)
The Woman from Bratislava (Eurocrime)
by Leif Davidsen
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Just a tad too long, 28 Aug. 2012
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Yes, this novel is just that little too long plus the typos seem to increase in the last fifty or sixty pages. Why? It's maddening to see one of the key characters spelled Toftlund (correct) or Toflund. Sloppy.

Multiple locations, fair range of characters. Both handled well. The use of the "pictures" device imagined by Teddy works well and does add to the overall image. If this novel had ended at 320 pages, I would be more inclined to give it four out of five.


Memory, Place and Identity: The Cultural Landscapes of Cornwall
Memory, Place and Identity: The Cultural Landscapes of Cornwall
by Garry Tregidga
Edition: Paperback

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What is the role of landscape in the construction of Cornish identity?, 20 Aug. 2012
This edited volume covers a plethora of topics relating to the place of landscape in terms of Cornish identity. The identity in question may be resident or visitor perception. Editor Garry Tregidga draws on Nora's concept of sites of memory and this is implicit in many of the chapters and it's not just the quintessential Cornish tourist landscape that is considered. The Cornish Alps, aka the Clay Country, is analysed by Jesse Harasta whereas Geoff Swallow discusses the construction of a Cornish surfing myth. This is a comprehensive volume despite the number of pages. Good quality photographs seriously enhance the discussions.


Three Stations
Three Stations
by Martin Cruz Smith
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

5.0 out of 5 stars How stupid I was..., 7 Aug. 2012
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This review is from: Three Stations (Paperback)
...not to purchase this before. I have eagerly awaited each Renko and whilst this might not be the best, it is 'atmospheric' as the quote from a Daily Mirror reviewer states on the front cover. Reason for not getting it earlier? I had read the negative reviews here!

The characters are still well-drawn, the scenes reasonably well detailed...overall, I do consider it well written. Do not hesitate like me!


Dregs (William Wisting Mystery 1)
Dregs (William Wisting Mystery 1)
by Jorn Lier Horst
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not quite a Norwegian Morse, 1 Aug. 2012
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The first observation is that I have deliberately not read any of the previous reviews and will, therefore, not be influenced by any previous comments. This novel is well-written and/or well-translated. In fact, although this is the sixth Inspector Wisting novel, it's the first published in English. An added boost for this reader is that it's published by Sandstone Press, based in Dingwall, northern Scotland - an independent publisher, I presume. The motivation for reading it was driven by the knowledge that the author and K.O. Dahl are due to speak at the same session on 'Criminal Writing' at the Plymouth International Book Festival.

The pace is almost 'gentle' although I found my attention was held, nonetheless. I get the impression that this is a quality translation but have no way of confirming it. There are similar themes to those found in Henning Mankell's work...."crime would begin to pay" (page 11)..."the annual number of crimes had more than tripled...frequently characterised by senseless violence" (page 32). All in all, I cannot think of any negative criticisms. Full marks to the author, translator, and publisher.


The Fortune of War
The Fortune of War
by Patrick O'Brian
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Craftsmanship, 12 July 2012
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This review is from: The Fortune of War (Paperback)
Slowly but surely, I am getting through the Aubrey/Maturin books in chronological order. This volume might not have much in the way of "action" yet it still captivates. This must be down to the quality of the prose besides the research undertaken.


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